by SFC John Barrett
The University of Information Technology is an innovative approach to training that uses many training strategies and initiatives, providing lifelong learning for the Signal Regiment�s soldiers. UIT combines assignment-oriented training, distance learning, simulations and regional extension campuses, allowing our soldiers access to the education they need at the "trainable moment."
I mentioned AOT is an integral component to UIT, but what is it? What does it mean to you, the Regiment�s soldiers?
Our current advanced-individual-training methodology is no longer practical for 21st century multitasked and multideployable Signal soldiers. This methodology, referred to as "multiassignment-oriented training," resulted from merging our military-occupation specialties that had "like functions" but retained unique skill requirements based on equipment and echelon of assignment. It trains the MOS�s critical tasks for each possible assignment.
Consequently, some of our course lengths have grown to more than 39 weeks of training; something must be done. Our soldiers spend too much time in AIT and so training decay has become a problem, placing a training burden on the unit. Only two solutions presented themselves: shorten the courses or create new MOSs. Shortening the courses places the training burden on the unit, which is an unacceptable option. Creating new MOSs is also unacceptable. Our only recourse was to think outside the box and design a new training method.
|Signal military-occupation specialties are multiassignment oriented; advanced individual training must transform to reflect this.|
|Current training methodology shortfalls.|
AOT is a training methodology used in the AIT environment for those multiskilled MOSs that can be assigned to different echelons (echelons above corps or echelons corps and below). This methodology trains the soldier using "tracks" of training tailored to the equipment and skill sets required for the first unit of assignment. Each course trains only those critical tasks required to MOS-qualify the soldier for the specific echelon unit and its operationally unique equipment/systems.
Not every MOS will convert to AOT. Many MOSs can�t convert because the skill sets or equipment cannot be "tracked" in any form or fashion. Currently only four MOSs qualify: 31R, 31S, 31P and 31F.
For the courses that convert to AOT, two phases of training (initial and follow-on) are used to fully MOS-certify the soldier. The initial phase is broken into an "MOS-specific common core" and a "track" (for example, strategic vs. tactical or EAC vs. ECB) limited to equipment/systems approved by the school commandant. The follow-on phase trains only the appropriate track required by soldiers subsequently assigned to a unit (echelon) for which they haven�t received training. Again, this gets the right soldier with the right training to the assignment in a shorter time.
|Assignment-oriented education-and-training model. Bottom line: places better trained, more focused soldiers in the field more quickly and cheaply.|
Why should the Signal Regiment adopt this training methodology? AOT focuses training our soldiers to the equipment located at their first unit of assignment. We aren�t training them on every critical task in the MOS�s inventory. We aren�t teaching them skills they won�t use during their first assignment. We focus them on the specific skills they need. We eliminate training decay created from teaching too many critical tasks that aren�t used. Our soldiers become more productive to the unit and contribute to the mission immediately on arrival. Basically, it just makes sense.
So how does it work? Let�s take a walk through the process using the 31R MOS as an example. The current 31R MOS course takes 13 weeks and three days to train. Our soldiers train on all equipment associated with their MOS and are eligible for any assignment.
Converted to AOT, the 31R MOS course trains in nine weeks, three days, for the EAC track and eight weeks, three days, for the ECB track. The courses take less time because we�re only training what�s needed.
All soldiers begin with an MOS-specific common-core course for their MOS. This is training common to both tracks within the MOS. After about two weeks, the military-personnel office receives assignment instructions for these soldiers. Based on the assignments, soldiers enter the appropriate "track" course of instruction for their first unit. The tracks, as mentioned, are EAC or ECB.
EAC-assigned soldiers attend training on digital-group-multiplexer radios and equipment. ECB soldiers receive training on mobile-subscriber-equipment radios and equipment. After completing the track course of instruction, all 31R AOT soldiers train on antenna operation and maintenance and spend time putting all the skills they have learned together with a week-long situation-training exercise.
How will these AOT soldiers get the rest of their training? The ideal situation provides for training in both tracks and assignments to both echelons before attaining the rank of staff sergeant. After the first assignment, the Signal Center recommends that soldiers be reassigned to a similar echelon unit. This allows them to enhance their skills and continue to develop themselves. However, if Personnel Command requires a soldier in a different echelon unit, that soldier is identified to attend follow-on training. This ensures professional development and provides the multiskilled, multifunctional soldiers the Army requires.
FOT is the track of training a soldier didn�t receive during his or her first visit to sunny Fort Gordon, Ga. For the 31R MOS, FOT consists of either the EAC track (four weeks and two days) or the ECB track (three weeks and two days). Under UIT, a soldier could receive FOT in any number of ways. When the university matures, soldiers could receive their training via simulations obtained through distance learning, on-site training at one of the regional extension campuses or resident training at Fort Gordon.
31R course is undergoing a pilot iteration of AOT. Six classes are
participating in the pilot. Two classes of 20 students started Oct. 29,
two more started Nov. 5 and the final two classes began Nov. 13. Based
on lessons-learned, we�ll be ready to begin full implementation of the
31R course under AOT in February 2002.
We project the 31S course to begin training under AOT in February 2002. The other MOSs, 31P and 31F, are projected to begin in June 2002 and September 2002, respectively. By using the same tracking approach, we expect we can shorten these MOSs� AIT courses anywhere from 17 percent to 30 percent.
AOT is a concept whose time has come. It minimizes learning decay, emphasizes initial-assignment critical skills, optimizes training resources and reduces course lengths. As an integral part of UIT, AOT will help the Signal Center meet Signal soldiers� education needs.
For more information on UIT or AOT, visit our website at http://www.gordon.army.mil/usascfg/uittf/uittfhottopics.htm.
SFC Barrett is the senior career management noncommissioned officer for MOSs 31P, 31S and 31T. He is assigned to the Office Chief of Signal at Fort Gordon.
Officer training changing, too
The warrant-officer corps is first among the Signal Regiment�s officers to undergo a change in training as well. The corps has developed a modular approach to its warrant-officer advanced course.
The approach evaluates the warrant officer to determine the extent of his or her knowledge. Each warrant officer�s advanced-course training is then tailored to his or her individual requirements. Warrant officers will only attend modules of training they require based on their evaluation.
This eliminates the "one size fits all" strategy that wastes our resources and keeps our soldiers away from their units and the mission. In the future, this methodology may migrate to other professional-development courses across the Army.
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Army Communicator is part of Regimental Division, a division of Office Chief of Signal.